Last week the most powerful laser blast ever was unleashed at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Livermore, California. On July 5th the combined power of 192 lasers delivered a 1.85-megajoule blast that generated approximately 500 Trillion (with a “T!”) watts of power.
According to the NIF website, the pressure and heat felt by the hydrogen target is unbelievable:
“When all that energy slams into millimeter-sized targets, it can generate unprecedented temperatures and pressures in the target materials—temperatures of more than 100 million degrees and pressures more than 100 billion times Earth’s atmosphere.”
What is amazing too is the amount of precision needed to get the 192 laser beams to strike the target nearly at the same time:
“The 192 separate beams must have optical pathlengths equal to within nine millimeters so that the pulses can arrive within 30 picoseconds (trillionths of a second) of each other at the center of the target chamber. Then they must strike within 50 micrometers of their assigned spot on a target the size of a pencil eraser. NIF’s pointing accuracy can be compared to standing on the pitcher’s mound at AT&T Park in San Francisco and throwing a strike at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, some 350 miles away.”
Cool stuff! When do we get the weaponized version?? 🙂